Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snowbound

Once again this year there were no commercials selling wheelchairs during the Super Bowl. I assume this is true. I don’t know for sure because I only saw about one third of the Super Bowl. I can’t bring myself to watch the whole Super Bowl because so many zillions of people are watching it and I’m a knee-jerk contrarian. I like to defiantly zig when the others zag, even if it doesn’t make sense. If I see a NO PARKING sign, I say to myself “Screw you I’ll park here if I damn well please.” If I see a NO SMOKING sign, I say to myself “Screw you I’ll smoke here if I damn well please,” even though I don’t smoke. This powerful contrarian impulse is why I’m tormented by DON’T WALK signs.

The last time I saw a commercial selling a wheelchair was while I was watching Bonanza. True confession: Last winter we had a blizzard in Chicago. I was so utterly snowbound, physically and emotionally, that I gave up and watched Bonanza. This is another sad story of the tragic human consequences of climate change. There were all kinds of other commercials aimed square at the cripple demographic during Bonanza. There were commercials for lawyers who will get you a big settlement for all your pain and suffering and commercials for other lawyers who will take the structured settlement the lawyer in the previous commercial got for you and turn it into a lump sum. There were commercials for incontinence pads with empowering names like Poise and Prevail. But they’re still delivered in discreet brown wrapping so your mail carrier won’t know you piss your pants.

But there were no commercials for any of this stuff during the Super Bowl, which shows what Madison Avenue really thinks about cripples. They think we sit around and watch Bonanza. They think we’re eternally snowbound. You’ll never see a commercial for a wheelchair or incontinence pads during the Super Bowl for the same reason you’ll never see a coffin commercial during the Super Bowl: it’s too goddam depressing. People want to relax and enjoy the game. They don’t want to be reminded about shit like death and wheelchairs and pissing your pants. (The closest thing I ever saw to a coffin commercial was when I was in college in southern Illinois. There was this company that sold gravestones. In their TV commercials they frequently offered a limited-time special deal: buy a gravestone now and when you die you get a free erection. I swear this is true. I clearly remember the words FREE ERECTION flashing on the screen.)

You won’t see a wheelchair commercial on the Super Bowl ever though the wheelchairs you see in the commercials on Bonanza have cutesy names to make them palatable, like LI’L RASCAL. God I hate those fucking names! What can’t a wheelchair have a badass name, like THE BADASS? Motorcycles have badass names but wheelchairs have to be cutesy. This double standard says something quite profound about our collective psyche, though I have no idea what.
What more do cripples have to do to be validated by Madison Avenue? If cutesy doesn’t work, it seems like nothing will. It makes you want to throw up your hands and go watch a Bonanza marathon.

17 comments:

  1. I understand paying for an orgasm, but in most cases don't erections come for free? Especially when you're 11 and don't want one?

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  2. Thanks Roger for tweeting this. Um, okay, I get what you are saying. I remember that day, though, I wasn't in ChiTown, I was in NY, the programmer behind Bonanza on television that day. I can only assume you were watching the network/channel I worked for.

    There are many things it seems you do not understand about television and buying ad time on television. It cost over $3M for a 30 spot on the Super Bowl, where it cost around $1K for a 30 spot on Bonanza at that time. Not sure if those 800# people could swing that kind of spot, because that $3M goes a whole lot further there than on the Super Bowl.

    Also the target audience is quite different, the demo watching Bonanza at that time isn't even rated by the good folks at Nielsen.

    Funny, though.

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  3. I can relate, though I am not wheelchair bound. Mabe because I am an old fart. That is to say that I am enduring the compounding inequity that we all are fated to endure, and then only if we're lucky. What could be more emblematic of that inequity than erections? What, as Mr. Ebert has pointed out, were freely avaiable at age 11 (mine was pretty much continuous until the summer of my 17th birthday) now cost about 15 bucks. Enough said, except there wasn't a single Viagra ad either.

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  4. Very funny and I love how you point out inequalities through humour. I also love how serious the responses are from people who don't get it...

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  5. You obviously didn't watch it all. There were ads for the Scooter Store and Jazzy before and after the game, as well as a Doritos ad where the wheelchair bound Grandma was the heroine for her bouncy chair bound grandson or great grandson. As the late, great George Carlin said, "We're Handi-capable!"

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  6. The manual wheelchair users get all the cool names--Colours and TiLite and dozens of others. The only cool one we have is Permobil, which reminds me of Playmobil and my kids' favorite early toys. And Permobil is a really cool chair--I wish it's what I had.

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  7. I do like the idea of a Playmobil wheelchair - full-sized, I mean, for actual humans to use. I'm reasonably certain you can already get Playmobil wheelchairs with Playmobil people in them (probably Playmobil children).

    As for the superbowl, don't all the beer commercials at least implicitly gesture toward pissing your pants?

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  8. i love you, smartass cripple.

    tormented by don;t walk signs.

    you are genius.

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    Replies
    1. Hear hear.

      We need to get you a +1 button (maybe even a like button) so we can lazily viralize your charm.

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  9. But didn't you catch the part when M.I.A. said "you ablist motherf###ers, I don't give a s . . . , right before her oh-so-risque gesture?

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  10. So I'm trying to wrap my head around Pinterest, the website that everyone now wants me to follow them on. I don't quite get it, but it seems to me to be something where people collect the advertisements that they like best, and you are supposed to care. But everything on Pinterest is just so pretty. Clothing ensembles and baby nurseries and pretty kitchens and color coordinated bath towels and shit.
    So, I was thinking, people want me to follow them and in return they will follow me!! But what should I put in Pinterest? I could put pictures of catheter products and incontinence products and those bowel pump things that some quads use. Or those penis erection vibration thingies that you see in the back of New Mobility. Or I could go pretty and do the quickie wheelchair that is always on top of a mountain cliff, even though you just know they heliported that guy in there. Or what I really get into is things like bus schedules and cab companies...I just don't know what pretty things to put on Pinterest yet.
    Not that this really has anything to do with your post, just trying to figure out what kind of life one has to have in order to spend their time Pinteresting things and then expecting me to follow them.

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    Replies
    1. i too am in a quandry about pineinterst. I don't like its squashed name, either, too unintuitive. like all new social media sites, it's just there to use us before it goes IPO and the young trim geeks wear their hoodies and tshirts to work and drive macho hummers. I for one am uninterested in making anymore 27 yr-old guys billionaires.

      by the way, yes, put up all the gross med/care tech stuff you can find on your 'boards' and see how that works! Maybe wheelchair tire hair, picked off each month? Like bb fuzz?

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  11. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Susan

    Cancer Treatment Guide

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  12. The cheap-ass wheelchairs they sell during Bonanza might have cutesy names, but I think the proper liberation machines we hard-core cripples get to choose from almost over-compensate in the other direction. For instance, I once had a chair called a 3G Storm Arrow Ranger, or some such horseshit. As if I'm some terrible avenging dark lord riding into the final battle between the damned and the righteous. Actually, that doesn't sound so bad, I guess. Of course, the maker of that particular machine was Invacare, so that's a splash of cold water.

    When I was a teenager, my chair was a Quickie, which led to no shortage of mature remarks on the part of my well-mannered friends.

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  13. I haven't used a chair in some time and I'm not sure what sort of name my crutches have, but I tell you, there's nothing better than big, stainless steel ice spikes on the end of your crutches for gaining respect and clearing a little space.

    The downside is that ice spikes are rendered comically useless once you walk indoors and get on a tiled floor.

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  14. Oh, and just for laughs...Top Gear (the UK version) did a test on off-road mobility vehicles and wheelchairs this week. Flipping brilliant!

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